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Pop trio half*alive ponders good vs. evil

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From left, Josh Taylor, J Tyler Johnson and Brett Kramer are half*alive. (Courtesy Sergio Necoechea)

If you couldn’t tell by its stylized lower-case name, Long Beach trio half*alive is attempting to elevate pop music to an artful new level, with philosophical songs like 2018’s breakthrough hit “still here” (the video’s got clever choreography) and the single “arrow” (its video has a mid-century modern design that gives new meaning to the term “homemade”). Frontman Josh Taylor wants to imbue every song with Christian-themed, but not Bible-thumping, messages of hope, keeping in line with the intellectual origin of the band’s moniker. It was inspired by a film-theory college class that fascinated him, and its shared Jung/Freud tenet that good and evil are tugging at one’s soul constantly. “One pushing you toward life, one dragging you toward death, leaving you half alive — that’s such a cool concept that I used it,” he says.

What inspired your track “The Fall”?

The process I was going through at that point. I was writing my 50-song project, where a mentor had challenged me to write 50 songs before the end of the year, which was then only a month away. I quickly learned how tough it was to take something that you’d become familiar with and then share it with a group of people that would judge the song in the first 30 seconds. So I wrote “The Fall” about remembering that some things are too precious to be shared. Plus, I was afraid of not getting those songs done in time, because I needed to stay true to each one. But it all worked out all right.

You met your drummer, Brett Kramer, through church. What denomination?

We all go to non-denominational churches. I definitely believe that Christianity and science can peacefully coexist, so I guess our belief would be that, as God is our creator, he created science as well. Another fascinating point of that class I took was not only that Freud and Jung both had these similar theories, but, coming from a church background, I saw the same tension already described in Biblical terms, as spirit versus flesh. So we all have something inside of us that’s trying to go into light, and another side that’s trying to go into darkness.

But what’s gone wrong with humanity? Darkness is consuming everybody.

The thesis root of that unfolds in the narrative of the Bible. So for us, what’s gone wrong goes back to the start, this love story of God and His creation. So what was wrong at the beginning will be made right again through Jesus. So the evil and corruption that we see in the world today is all part of that. But there’s something than that, a hopeful, heroic narrative that leads to something brighter.

IF YOU GO
half*alive
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Feb. 8
Tickets: $15 to $17
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.eventbrite.com

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